In anticipation of Penn State playing against USC in the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day, I’ve decided to use the twelve days leading up to the gridiron clash to review the incredible season the Nittany Lions have had. One game per day, with analysis you won’t find anywhere else.
GAME 3: Penn State Nittany Lions versus The Syracuse Orange
September 13th, 2008
The Game Scenario
‘The Game Scenario’ is my best attempt at re-creating the ambiance of the game from the fan’s point of view. Keeping in mind that this section is likely to be subjective from my point of view, I will include a game preview or relevant article that was published before the game.
With a hot 2-0 team poised to make noise in the Big Ten traveling to play an already disappointing 0-2 Big East team with losses to Akron and Northwestern, all people could due to hype the game was talk history.
The Penn State-Syracuse rivalry is at the heart of Penn State lore, in the form of the tradition of guarding the Lion Shrine during homecoming weekend. It was the hope that the revival of a storied contention consisting of 46 consecutive years of competition would spice up an otherwise unexciting start to the anticipated season. Head Coach Joe Paterno – always cautious not to prematurely anoint his team as great, warned the Penn State faithful that his squad had yet to face adversity. While on paper the Lions seemed to have yet another easy task ahead, an 18 year hiatus from playing a legendary foe was considered a possible spark for an upset.
Yes, the Orange and Nittany Lions had not played each other since 1990, but would that be validated by an easy Penn State win as so many predicted?
Anecdotal Quote of The Game
I’ve chosen to add the most memorable quote from the game, along with a short explanation, to add a little character to this series. Keep in mind that these occurred during a football game, in the notoriously rowdy (and often inebriated) student section. These are far from being nuggets of wisdom.
“This is a place that has a lot of heart, a lot of soul, and that Orange, you sure know how to get fired up.” – Dennis Quaid, speaking to the Carrier Dome at half time before the unveiling of a statue honoring Syracuse legend Ernie Davis
Two things to take away from this quote: the first is – never plan this stuff too far ahead. You’ll end up telling a crowd of fans that they “really know how to get fired up” after they’ve watched their team fall behind by 32 points in the first half, and right BEFORE they emphatically boo their athletic director. Really Dennis? Listen, I know you’re awesome at grimacing in movies, but that won’t save you from poorly planned words that you’re saying to the guys wearing paper bags over their heads in shame.
Secondly, did anyone else yell “what the hell is Dennis Quaid doing here, ruining my football game?!” While I know this was a great time to plug the movie he was in about Ernie Davis, when will ESPN learn that some celebrities do not belong in the booth? Listen – those of us who are watching the game can barely stand some of the inane things that professional commentators spew. So it’s fan-fricking-tastic when they bring in someone like Jim Belushi to make it an even bigger car wreck. It’s not like I don’t enjoy Quaid’s work, or think he’s a bad person. I just want to see Pat Devlin throw touchdowns, not shots of the stubbled one awkwardly standing in the booth, trying to talk up his movie but not completely give away the fact he has little interest in the game that’s going on.
Stat of The Game
While I could do a thorough recounting of the game, the reality is that game summaries are available all over the internet. Instead, I’ll use one of these existing sources for one stat that really speaks for itself. Sadly, I won’t let it speak it for itself, and offer a short explanation as well.
If the score doesn’t say enough about how these two squads matched up, consider that Penn State had 3.52 times (560) the number of offensive yards the Orange managed (159). The Nittany Lions punted only three times all game.
LOLPSU of The Game
If you have spent enough time on the Internet, it’s likely you’ve become familiar with LOLCats. LOLPSU is no different – with the exception of Penn Staters replacing the cats. Not as a adorable, but more relevant for our purposes.
Credit for the idea of combining sports with the internet meme is due to Grimey of LOLJocks.
Three Obscure Facts
‘Three Obscure Facts’ is your chance to pick up information to lord over people that watch the Rose Bowl with you. It’s you’re secret to making it seem like you’re a better fan than them!
1. The game-total 216 rushing yards was amassed by 10 different players. The least known name on that list? Fifth-string running back Joe Suhey (#37), who had 1 carry for 2 yards.
2. The Express (the movie that got more coverage during the broadcast than the game itself) is about Ernie Davis, Syracuse running back and the first African-American winner of the Heisman. The one of the movie’s most intense scenes depicted the harsh racism from West Virginia fans that Davis had to endure while playing in Morgantown. Oh wait- they made that up.
3. It was against Syracuse that Pat Devlin had his first passing touchdown as a Nittany Lion. It was a 15 yard strike to Deon Butler. The two touchdowns he threw in the game would account for half of his passing scores for all of the regular season.
Penn State 55, Syracuse 13
“It was over when Daryll Clark connected with Jordan Norwood on a 55-yard TD just 1:20 into the game to start a very long afternoon for Syracuse.” ESPN’s Recap echoes the sentiment of many fans who were let down by Syracuse’s inability to live up to their predecessors. The team still hadn’t felt adversity, but was beginning to establish an incredibly potent offense.